The image is head-scratching: The two young winners of the Billabong Junior Series at the Ballito Pro, a surf competition held in South Africa, stand next to one another holding their prize checks—but the male winner's check (about $600) is for twice the amount of the female winner's. Outcry was swift, Mashable reports, with many pointing out on social media that winners Rio Waida and Zoe Steyn surfed the same waves in the same ocean and incurred the same costs for equipment, travel, nutrition, and doctors. The World Surf League, the sport's governing body, said in a statement that the discrepancy had to do with the fact that there were more competitors in the male division than the female division—which didn't go over well with some commenters, the Guardian reports, pointing out one condemnation of WSL's "condoning" the pay gap.
And Surfing South Africa's general manager pointed out to Cape Talk radio show, "The women and men pay the same entry fee, so they should get the same prize money." (A WSL rep explains to ABC why the issue is "complicated" and how the prize pot works, noting that not as many women want to compete in the women's event.) The WSL also noted in its statement that it is in the process of instituting pay parity across all levels of competition. Ballito Pro organizers and Billabong also responded with a statement noting their commitment to gender equality. But at the Sydney Morning Herald, Clementine Ford says the issue comes down to sexism, sarcastically noting the reasons some men have given for the prize gap: "No one wants to watch women sportsing, sponsors get no returns from them, and women in general are rubbish." (Read more gender pay gap stories.)